Press Releases

    GA/AB/3715
    19 December 2005

    Creation of Ethics Office, External Evaluation of Oversight among Issues Raised, as Budget Committee Continues Debate of 2005 Summit Implementation

    NEW YORK, 16 December (UN Headquarters) -- As it continued its consideration of financial implications of the outcome of the September Summit today, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) focused on the plans to create the ethics office and an independent audit advisory committee, and launch a comprehensive review of governance arrangements, including an external evaluation of the Organization's auditing and oversight system.

    The representative of the United Kingdom, who spoke on behalf of the European Union and associated States, expressed commitment to the early establishment of an ethics office in the Secretariat, along with the finalization of the policies on whistle-blower protection, fraud prevention and changes to financial disclosure regulations.  Concrete steps to address weaknesses in transparency and accountability should become a Secretariat-wide priority, and there must be cooperation across all departments to ensure the mainstreaming of ethical behaviour, she said.

    The Union also wanted to start the process of strengthening oversight and supported an external evaluation of oversight, considering the terms of reference for such an evaluation broadly sensible.  The first step would be to ensure the operational independence of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).  The creation of an independent advisory body should contribute to that process and assist the General Assembly in its oversight functions.

    Japan's representative insisted that accountability, integrity and transparency must be an integral part of the work and structure of the Secretariat.  The United Nations must address those issues with determination.  An immediate decision was needed on the issues before the Committee, he said.

    The proposals contained before the Committee were supported by several other speakers, including the representatives of the United States and Canada (also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), but the representative of Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), while favouring the reform of the Secretariat, said that as it was not yet possible to predict the body of work of the ethics office, the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the matter were appropriate.

    The Advisory Committee's remarks were also supported by the representative of Cuba, particularly since, she said, the activity being provided for was not new and should have been an integral part of the administrative structure of the Secretariat since its inception.  The leadership and direction provided by the Secretary-General and the responsibilities he has under the Charter for the administration of the staff, as well as the obligations of staff under their oaths of office, make strict ethical conduct obligatory.  Her delegation had no difficulty with the proposal to establish an ethics office, but in the light of proposed resources for its establishment, she was not 100 per cent convinced that strengthening the ethical culture in the Secretariat would require such a structure.

    Cuba also did not favour external evaluation of the United Nations audit and oversight systems, as such a decision would place the Organization at the mercy of questionable political interests.  She was not convinced of the need to establish an independent audit committee, as the Organization already had the necessary internal mechanisms to ensure compliance in the Secretariat.

    The documents before the Committee were introduced by the United Nations Controller, Warren Sach, and the Acting Chairman of the ACABQ, Rajat Saha.

    Also participating in the debate were representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Costa Rica.

    The Committee will meet again at a date to be announced.

    Background

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to continue its consideration of the financial implications of the outcome of the September Summit, taking up a report of the Secretary-General on the plans to create the ethics office; comprehensive review of governance arrangements, including an independent external evaluation of auditing and oversight system; and the independent audit advisory committee (IAAC) (for an initial backgrounder on the item, see Press Release GA/AB/3714 of 14 December).  The Committee was also planning to address the issue of the provision of conference services for its meetings beyond 6 p.m. and on weekends until the end of the main part of the session.

    Introduction of Documents

    United Nations Controller WARREN SACH introduced the Secretary-General's report (document A/60/568), saying that currently there was no mechanism in place to coordinate ethics-related initiatives or ensure that all staff were actively aware of and updated on ethics issues.  The establishment of an ethics office was an attempt to address that lacuna.  The proposal formed part of the management reform initiatives to strengthen transparency, accountability and ethic conduct in the Secretariat, including reforming and expanding the regime of financial disclosure for senior officials, whistle-blower protection and ethical training for all staff.

    On the independent evaluation of auditing and oversight, he said that the Audit Operations Committee of the Board of Auditors, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and members of the High-Level Committee on Management of the System Chief Executives Board for Coordination had been consulted on the terms of reference for the evaluation.  The evaluation would be undertaken by consultants to be selected on an international competitive basis.  The process would be overseen by a steering committee, composed of five internationally representative independent experts, established by the Secretary-General.

    The evaluation would consist of two main components:  governance and oversight review; and a review of the OIOS, he said.  It would identify best international practices and models in governance, oversight and audit in order to promote the highest standards of ethics and organizational values, promote accountability, deliver value for money, and improve management effectiveness and transparency.  The review of the OIOS would make recommendations on the appropriate arrangements to ensure the Office's independence from management, the adequacy of resources, the appropriate breadth of functions, its reporting mechanisms, and the organization and structure for optimum resource utilization.

    Given the focus on audit matters, the Secretary-General had proposed that the new advisory entity be named the independent audit advisory committee (IAAC).  It would comprise five or seven members nominated by the Secretary-General for approval by the General Assembly.  The proposed terms of reference for the committee drew on practices of public-sector management aimed at making organizations and Governments accountable for what they did.  The purpose was to help the Assembly better exercise governance responsibilities with respect to United Nations operations and ensure that audit processes were operating efficiently and effectively.  The proposed terms of reference for the committee, which were now before the delegates, would also be reviewed by the independent external evaluation of auditing and oversight.  Additional details had bee provided in the three annexes to the report, for information purposes.

    Finally, he announced that today the Secretary-General had received a formal letter from the Auditor-General of South Africa in his capacity as Chairman of the Panel of External Auditors of the United Nations, specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  The letter reported on the Panel's review of the proposals for the independent external evaluation of governance and oversight and for the establishment of the IAAC.  The Panel said that document A/60/568 presented welcome developments.

    The terms of reference for the governance review and the independent audit advisory committee, as outlined in Annexes II and III, were of particular relevance to the external auditors, he continued.  The terms of reference were comprehensive and appeared to cover the key elements of good governance.  Anything less could, in the Panel's view, result in a fragmented assessment that would not necessarily foster constructive good governance reforms.  The Panel also considered that, in principle, the terms of reference of the IAAC were in line with good governance practices.  Accordingly, the Panel considered that those terms of reference could serve as a model for the establishment of similar audit committees elsewhere in the United Nations system.

    In conclusion, he said that the Assembly may wish to take note of the report and its annexes and approve the proposals as set out in paragraphs 2 to 13 of the report.

    RAJAT SAHA, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body's report, noting that it appropriately left matters of policy to the General Assembly and should be considered in conjunction with its report on the revised estimates.  The Advisory Committee should have been given an opportunity to study the Secretary-General's report carefully, have an exchange with his representatives and submit its views to the General Assembly, as the report might have an impact on the revised estimates.  The Committee had been informed, however, that the Secretary-General's report would be considered directly in informal consultations of the plenary.  In a letter dated 9 December 2005 (document A/C.5/60/19), the President of the General Assembly transmitted the report for consideration by the Fifth Committee, through the Advisory Committee.

    On the ethics office, he said the Advisory Committee's comments on resource requirements for the ethics office in its report on the revised estimates remained valid.  The Committee recommended that the ethics office be headed by a staff member at the D-2 level, rather than at the Assistant Secretary-General level, since it was the Secretary-General who must provide leadership and guidance in this area.  In its report, the Committee also recommended reductions in the proposed staffing levels of the office.  Among other things, the Committee recommended that some of the staffing requirements could be accommodated through general temporary assistance and that the regional liaison offices not be established at the current stage, but that the matters be revisited in the light of experience.

    He noted that included in the estimates for the ethics office was an amount of $1.1 million for consultants to carry out the review of financial disclosure forms.  The Advisory Committee reiterated a request previously made to the Secretariat that a full breakdown and a full justification of this amount be provided to the General Assembly so that the resource proposals on revised estimates could be fully considered.

    On the matter of standard-setting, he noted that while the Advisory Committee understood that there would be input on standards of ethical conduct from many parts of the United Nations system, it trusted that a common standard would be developed, leading to a system-wide code of conduct for all United Nations personnel.  The Advisory Committee expected that, in the follow-up report, the Secretary-General would provide further details on the various activities carried out by different organizational entities within the Secretariat with regard to ethics, as well as other issues raised in its report on revised estimates, including the operation of the whistle-blower protection policy.

    Regarding the independent external evaluation of the Organization's auditing and oversight system, he noted that a separate review of the OIOS had not specifically emanated from the 2005 World Summit Outcome.  The Advisory Committee was of the opinion, however, that the review was necessary and recommended that it should proceed forthwith.  Regarding the Secretary-General's proposal that the review be carried out by consultants, he said the Advisory Committee understood that it would be a firm of consultants, instead of individuals, and expected that the selection process would be fully transparent and compliant with established procedures for international competitive bidding.

    He said the Advisory Committee had been informed that the establishment of a steering committee to oversee this type of study represented best practice.  The Advisory Committee was concerned that the responsibilities and functions of the steering committee, as contained in the proposed terms of reference, were not clearly spelled out.  It was not evident, for example, what coordination and supervision of the project by the steering committee would entail, nor how actively the steering committee was to be involved in the independent evaluation itself.  The Advisory Committee had been informed that the consultants that were to carry out the review would interact with the steering committee.  As the steering committee was to be established by the Secretary-General, its active involvement in the evaluation could be seen to compromise the independence of the evaluation.  He, therefore, recommended that the language of section III.C of the terms of reference be revised to reflect the specific tasks foreseen for the steering committee.

    Regarding the provisional terms of reference for the IAAC, he pointed out that the proposed independent audit advisory committee was to be an integral part of governance arrangements at the United Nations, which would include a previously established internal oversight committee.  As the findings of the governance review could have a significant impact on the functions, mandate and terms of reference of the proposed committee, he recommended that the creation of the IAAC and the elaboration of its terms of reference be deferred until the governance review is completed.

    He said the establishment of operational and budgetary independence for the OIOS was of utmost importance and that it did not depend on the creation of an independent audit advisory committee.  Accordingly, the General Assembly might wish to request that the evaluation proposed in the Secretary-General's report be expedited so as to ensure the requisite operational and budgetary independence of the OIOS.  As an interim measure, the Assembly might wish to authorize the OIOS to submit its budget to the Assembly through the ACABQ.  That was particularly relevant, given the fact that a revised budget proposal for the OIOS for 2006-2007, reflecting the approach of the recently appointed Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, was to be presented during the resumed sixtieth session.

    Statements

    Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, ELIZABETH GALVEZ ( United Kingdom) said that the Union was committed to the early establishment of an ethics office in the Secretariat along with the finalization of related policies applicable within the United Nations, such as whistle-blower protection, fraud prevention and changes to financial disclosure regulations.  It was important that the Organization showed that it was taking concrete steps to address weaknesses that had been identified in transparency and accountability.  That should be a Secretariat-wide priority.  There must be cooperation across all departments to ensure the mainstreaming of ethical behaviour.  The Union also wanted to start the process of strengthening oversight.  It supported an external evaluation of oversight and considered the terms of reference for such an evaluation broadly sensible.  The first step would be to ensure the operational independence of the OIOS.  The creation of an independent advisory body should contribute to that process and assist the General Assembly in its oversight functions.

    The Union was mindful of the letter from the President of the Assembly, in which he had requested that the Fifth Committee report back to the plenary by 19 December with its recommendations, she continued.  To that end, the Union stood ready to move to informal consultations as soon as possible, so that a timely and constructive outcome could be achieved.

    NORMA ELAINE TAYLOR ROBERTS (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the "Group
    of 77" developing countries and China, said that issues related to ethics and oversight were of great importance to the Group, and it was ready to participate constructively in the deliberations on the issue, despite the fact that the reports had been late in coming.

    SHANNON-MARIE SONI (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, supported the Secretary-General's proposals contained in the report, including the establishment of the ethics office with the functions described, the approach to conducting the independent external review of governance and oversight, and the establishment of an independent audit advisory committee.  That entity could help the Assembly discharge its own oversight responsibilities.

    She said she would not conceal the disappointment with the ACABQ's report.  In paragraph 2 of the report, the ACABQ was firm in the view that the report should have been referred to it from the outset.  Yet, having considered it, the Advisory Committee failed to address its content.  On the ethics office, it merely restated its resource recommendations, and did not comment on the functions or the establishment of the office itself.  Concerning the proposed establishment of the IAAC, the ACABQ did not comment on the merits of the ideas put forward.  The needed technical advice was wanting in the report.

    ALEJANDRO TORRES LEPORI (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, expressed gratitude that as requested by some regional groups, the document had been presented in the Fifth Committee after having been analysed by the ACABQ.  The Rio Group favoured the reform of the Secretariat and would continue to work to improve its efficiency and transparency.  Regarding the proposals under consideration, at the September Summit, detailed information had been requested on the proposed ethics office.  In that regard, he requested specific details on the office so that the Assembly could take relevant decisions.  As it was not possible to predict the office's body of work, the ACABQ's recommendations were appropriate.

    On the comprehensive review of governance arrangements, including the establishment of the IAAC, he had received the Advisory Committee's comments with interest.  Given its technical nature, the ACABQ's report would provide a good basis for the Committee's consideration.

    ANDREW S. HILLMAN ( United States) said that his delegation welcomed the discussion today on steps to implement the key reforms called for in the Summit Outcome, including the establishment of an ethics office; a comprehensive review of governance arrangements, including an independent external evaluation of auditing and oversight system; and the independent audit advisory committee.  Those were essential reforms, which the United States fully supported.  Ambassador John Bolton had noted on 6 December to the plenary that a meaningful reform would both strengthen the Assembly's ability to provide oversight of United Nations operations and the Secretariat's ability to manage the Organization and its personnel with commensurate accountability.  Those steps were in the interest of every Member State.  The Secretariat's plans, as contained in document A/60/568, were sorely needed and should be undertaken as soon as possible.  His delegation was prepared to take part in the Committee's deliberations to reach a positive decision on the matter as soon as possible.

    TAKESHI MATSUNAGA ( Japan) said that accountability, integrity and transparency must be an integral part of the work and structure of the Secretariat.  The United Nations must address those issues with determination.  An immediate decision was needed to establish an ethics office, implement an independent external evaluation of the Organization's auditing and oversight system, and create an IAAC.

    Responding to the ACABQ's comments on the independence of the OIOS, he pointed out that his delegation's position on the matter was clear:  it would like to enhance the Office's operational independence.  At the same time, he had concerns regarding undermining budgetary integrity in respect of the OIOS.  Strengthening of the OIOS must be pursued immediately and vigorously.  His position was that it should be reflected in the budget draft now on the table as swiftly as possible.

    Mrs. BUERGO RODRIGUEZ ( Cuba) said she was pleased to see that, given the Committee's mandate, the report had finally been received.  Cuba firmly supported the application of norms of behaviour for all United Nations staff.  Such norms were an essential premise for recruiting the Organization's personnel.  She supported the remarks of the Advisory Committee in paragraph 19 of its report, which noted that the activities to be financed under the item were not new and should have been an integral part of the Secretariat from the start.  The leadership and obligations of the Secretary-General under the Charter on personnel management, as well as the obligations of officials when serving their oath, made it compulsory for them to adhere to strict ethnical standards. The Organization had established standards in that respect. Regarding the proposal to establish an ethics office, her delegation did not have difficulty with that.  However, in the light of proposed resources for its establishment, she was not 100 per cent convinced that strengthening the ethical culture in the Secretariat would require such a structure.

    On the comprehensive review of governance arrangements, she said it was a sensitive issue, given the intense negotiations that had taken place on the subject in the Assembly.  The Assembly should evaluate the matter carefully.  In that regard, Cuba did not favour external evaluation of the United Nations audit and oversight systems, as such a decision would place the Organization at the mercy of questionable political interests.  Concerning the proposal for greater budgetary and operational independence for the OIOS, any study or external review of the Office would have been taken on the basis of the Assembly's decision in resolution 59/272, which established that any external review, audit, inspection, monitoring, evaluation or investigation would be the exclusive competence of the Board of Auditors and of the Joint Inspection Unit, or those which might receive terms of reference to that effect from the Assembly.

    On the proposal for an independent audit committee, she said she was not convinced of the need to establish such a committee, as the Organization had the necessary internal mechanisms to ensure compliance in the Secretariat.  That was another matter which the Assembly must consider.  She trusted that the Committee would take the decisions needed to organize its work in remaining days in the most productive way possible.

    YOO DAE-JONG (Republic of Korea) strongly supported the strengthening of United Nations oversight functions.  The Secretary-General's report was a right step forward in implementing the outcome of the September Summit.  He also took note of the recommendations of the ACABQ on post requirements for the ethics office and expected productive discussion on the matter, as well as the timely conclusion of the item.

    ANJA ZOBRIST RENTENAAR (Switzerland) supported the creation of the ethics office as outlined in the Secretary-General's report and stressed the need for swift action on the independent evaluation in order not to endanger the deadline for the submission of the reports in April and May next year.  As for the terms of reference for the IAAC, she stressed the need to respect the proper division of labour between the independent audit committee and the OIOS and pointed out the potential for overlap.  It was also necessary to include the funds and programmes in the coverage by the IAAC and ensure a strong emphasis on actual audit committee experience of the expert members.

    While a point had been made last week that the cart should not be put before the horse, the creation of an oversight or audit committee was an important step towards budgetary independence of the OIOS.  Her delegation's preference would be not to spend a disproportionate amount of time on the subject, but to adopt preliminary terms of reference and to revisit them in the light of the outcome of the governance review.  She also noted the proposal of the ACABQ as an interim measure - as mentioned, she would prefer not to defer the creation of the IAAC.

    ANTONIO ALARCON ( Costa Rica) said that his delegation was willing to work in a constructive manner on the issues before the Committee.  He believed it was very important to establish an ethics office, but he wanted to receive clarification on
    several issues.  In particular, he wanted to know if provisions of paragraph 1 on the establishment of the office also related to the officials at the level of Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General, as well as high-level senior level officials.  In connection with paragraph 4, he wanted to know if presentation of reports was considered to be made directly to the General Assembly.  Did the reference to the financial disclosure for high-level officials include those hired under the modality of $1 a year?  He agreed with the comments by the ACABQ on paragraph 22 of the Secretary-General's report, but was interested in its wording.  In connection with paragraph 25, he would like further clarification regarding the office's structure and the lines of command and reporting to be followed by regional liaison offices vis-à-vis the Headquarters.

    On the second proposal, he wanted to have further details on paragraph 4 about the phasing in of the governance and oversight study.  He also requested additional information on several other paragraphs of the report.  He wanted the provisions of paragraph 5, subparagraph b(ii), to apply to senior-level officials, including those hired under the modality $1 a year.  On the steering committee for the review of the OIOS, his preference would have been for it to be made up of five representatives - one per each geographic region.  He had a similar preference for the composition of the IAAC.  He also agreed with a previous speaker that the funds and programmes of the United Nations should fall under the competence of the advisory committee.

    His other question related to the criteria to define the independence of the external committee, which were contained in Appendix A to the Secretary-General's report.  According to subparagraph e, a candidate would not be considered independent if he had received or had an immediate family member who had received more than $100,000 during any 12-month period within the last three years in direct compensation from the United Nations.  However, his delegation believed that $100,000 during the last three years could be considered as a strong link to the Organization.

    Responding to comments, Mr. SACH said he would only address a few key elements at the current time, including whether the IAAC would be a five- or seven-member body.  They had initially thought of it as a five-member body, as that number worked well in terms of geographic balance.  Some, however, believed that its work would require seven members.  On the question of scope of the IAAC, in terms of getting the operation moving, the Secretariat had proposed that its scope initially relate to the Secretariat proper.  That question could be addressed in the upcoming evaluation of governance, oversight and auditing.  It was entirely in the cards that the IAAC could have a broader scope and include the funds and programmes.

    Regarding the scope of the ethics office, he said the office would have scope over all the senior levels.  Exposure to ethical risks was much higher at the top than at the bottom, and it would not be a good structure that did not address issues at the Assistant Secretary-General and Under-Secretary-General levels.

    Organization of Work

    Following several suspensions for consultations to find a compromise on a proposal to hold evening and weekend meetings, the representative of Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) made a request for conference services to be extended for the Committee's evening work.

    A representative of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, VIVIAN LEWIS, said that while there was no authorization at this point to extend the meeting into the night, conference services would not be withdrawn from a meeting in progress, particularly with a vote pending.  A motion was also made and later withdrawn by the United States to adjourn the meeting after 6 p.m., but numerous speakers opposed such action.  During a heated debate on the organization of work, Cuba's representative said that it was truly regrettable that the Committee had wasted an entire day of work on a subject that should not have required so much time.

    The Committee held several votes on the draft decision (document A/C.5/60/L.10, as orally amended)-- proposed by the Group of 77 and China -- by the terms of which the Committee would be provided with full conference services for night and weekend informal consultations until the end of the main part of the session.  By the text, the Committee would report on any related expenditures in the context of the second performance report on the programme budget for 2004-2005.

    Prior to action on the draft, an oral statement on programme budget implications of the text was provided by VLADIMIR BELOW, Chief of the Common Services Unit, Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts.  He said that one three-hour meeting with full conference services cost $14,300 and with limited services -- $2,850.  Potentially, before the end of the session, the Committee could hold up to 15 night and weekend meetings with interpretation and another 15 with limited services, in addition to the already programmed meetings.  The total amount could reach $257,200.  Also, to provide services in excess of existing capacity, additional free-lance staff would be required, and their availability could not be guaranteed at a short notice.

    An oral statement was also presented by the Acting Chairman of the ACABQ, Mr. SAHA, who said it would be for the General Assembly to decide whether additional requirements should be considered in the context of the second performance report.  The Advisory Committee had no reason to object to the costing for full conference services.

    First, the Committee decided to waive the rule by which any proposal has to be circulated to all delegations not later than 24 hours before it is addressed in a meeting, by a vote of 80 in favour, to 34 against, with 4 abstentions (Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Monaco, Russian Federation) (see Annex I).  Botswana's representative later stated that he had voted on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina by mistake.

    The draft, as orally revised, was then adopted by a vote of 81 in favour to 34 against, with no abstentions (Annex II).  Indonesia's representative said that he had voted in favour of the draft.  Venezuela added that his positive vote for the draft had not been recorded.

    In a statement before the vote on the draft, Mexico spoke in favour of the draft as outstanding issues still required a lot of work.  He also supported the principle of multilingualism and equality of all the subjects before the Committee.  The rule under which the Committee was to work by consensus should not become a veto.  It was necessary to resort to a vote whenever the Committee considered it necessary.

    Syria's representative said that he believed in multilingualism and the need to provide services to all delegations.  The Committee was experiencing difficulties in its work and the only solution was to vote in favour of the decision.  He wished such a decision could have been adopted by consensus.

    Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United States expressed disappointment in the action taken, and the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union) and Australia regretted the need to vote and reiterated their commitment to engaging seriously in negotiations, so that the Committee could conclude its work.  Japan also deeply regretted that voting had taken place in the Fifth Committee.

    The representative of the Russian Federation also regretted that the draft had been put to a vote.  Up to the last moment, he had made efforts to find a compromise.  He did not believe the vote would facilitate productive discussions of important issues before the Committee.  However, he had voted in favour of the draft on the basis of the need to ensure that conference services were provided at this important stage in discussions, as well as the need to respect all official languages.  The Committee should not use all the funds specified in the programme budget implications statement, however.

    Jamaica's representative (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) said the Group deeply regretted that action had to be taken today.  She had made the request two days ago, and the coordinator of the item for the budget in an effort to facilitate the Committee's work, had put forward a compromise solution that was far less than the minimum required.  That compromise had been accepted.  She had also consulted with the Office of the President of the Assembly, who had tried to facilitate the Committee's work.  It was very unfortunate that with all the efforts for compromise and the President's request to complete work on the implementation of the Summit by Monday, there had been no effort to meet the request, as well as an obstinate refusal to accept the compromise.

    The United States representative asked the delegates to remember what had actually occurred.  The language of the compromise proposal had been worked on in conjunction with a member of the Group of 77. 

    South Africa fully supported the principle of consensus, which had been the basis upon which the Committee had always worked.  She had voted in favour of the draft, because of concern that the Committee had many important agenda items before it, which must be concluded as soon as possible.  She looked forward to working with other delegations to ensure adoption of decisions by consensus.  She also formally requested the Bureau to prepare a programme of work that would enable the Committee to make use of conference services to conclude agenda items.

    Cuba's representative fully supported the statement by Jamaica and expressed deep regret over the lack of clear advice on the part of the Secretariat throughout the whole exercise, which could have avoided the situation the Committee had found itself at the end of the day.  The Committee's work situation was complex and she insisted on the need to work directly on the drafts that were still pending in a climate which was positive, open and transparent. 

    Egypt's representative expressed appreciation for Jamaica's statement.  He believed in the principle of consensus and had tried in the last two days to get agreement on having two meetings tomorrow.  He had voted in favour of the draft in order for the Committee to meet and conclude its work by consensus.  He regretted that the Group of 77 had had to resort to the procedural decision to provide time to meet and conclude the work.

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